Purab Kohli, Amrita Arora,
Zafar Karachiwala, Vijay Raaz,
Pawan Malhotra, introducing Ali Fazal,
Ashwini Kalsekar, Sadia Siddiqui,
Saurabh Shukla, Rajat Kapoor,
Saeed Akhtar Mirza
Rangita Pritish Nandy
PNC’s Ek Tho Chance marks the return of Saeed Akhtar Mirza (Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hain, Salim Lande Pe Mat Ro, Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho, Nukkad), one of Indian cinema’s greatest legends and one of the few Indian film-makers to have been officially invited to screen his film at The Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes. The film tells the tale of Mumbai city and the millions who get off the train at VT station every second of the day hoping to latch on to the magic of Mumbai.
This film is a colourful mural of the lives of individuals from Bombay city’s diverse cultural, social & economic strata. Its multiple tracks trace the hopeful, the aspirational & sometimes desperate lives of people who inhabit the city. These distinct tracks run simultaneously along the film, touching and crossing each other ever so often, and finally converge towards a unique and exciting climax.
Ek Tho Chance is aimed at showing Mumbai as a glorious collage of naive dreams, young aspirations, determined grit, cynicism and optimism that is so much a character of this vast metropolis; and all this with the will to look ourselves in the eye.
This is a film that interweaves the lives of several characters who live in and work in the city of Mumbai. What the viewer gets to start with, are several narrative strands that take our protagonists through a typical, or for some, a special, day in their lives.
There’s one story, of a flamboyant young man, who has organized his first major fashion show, but who also seems preoccupied by the hunt for a suitably glamorous date for the party that will follow the event. Then there’s a feisty, ambitious young girl, who manages to get her lucky break, one that will free her from a tedious job in a bank and open the door to the exotic world of high fashion. We also see a philosophical, small-time thief, who has an irate politician and a determined policeman on his heels. And finally, there is the tale of a young boy who has run away from his village and come to the mega-city, with dreams in his heart and a yearning to do something with his life.
All these characters, along with their families, friends, neighbours and co-workers become, quite unexpectedly, part of a drama that brings them together in one climactic incident. An incident that explodes at the end of the day and changes all their lives.
This film is a rich mosaic of Mumbai, a city in which love and ambition, friendship and sorrow mould the lives and destinies of the people who call it their home.
Saeed Akhtar Mirza
Everyone celebrates Mumbai.
Salman Rushdie in The Moor’s Last Sigh. Kundan Shah in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Anita Desai in Baumgartner’s Bombay. Saeed Akhtar Mirza in Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hain. Kiran Nagarkar in Ravan and Eddie. Sudhir Mishra in Is Raat Ki Subaah Nahi. Manil Suri in The Death of Vishnu. Gregory David Roberts in Shantaram. Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi in The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay. Danny Boyle in Slumdog Millionaire. These are some of my favourites. But, then, my favourites also change from time to time. As indeed does this magic city.
It’s ephemeral. It’s gritty. It’s fucking soul killing. At the same time, it’s fantastic, inspiring, manic. It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope. Each time, you see something entirely new about it. In fact, it’s so schizoid that it breaks you down every few years. Your responses change. So does your attitude towards it.
You can preen about your success. Like Shah Rukh Khan does. Or you can pick up your heartbreaks and run away. As I have often contemplated doing. But, no, no one ever quits this city because you love it as much as you hate it. It’s like pain. Impossible to live with. Too beautiful to leave behind. So some, like Saeed Akhtar Mirza, go into deep contemplation. Or was it plain sulk?
I have no idea. All I know is that when Rajat Kapoor suggested we approach him to make a new film for us, after a hiatus of 13 long years, I jumped at the idea. Simply because great film makers never fade away. They need to be coaxed, inspired, even provoked to come back and take a shot at another film. To be honest, Saeed didn’t even need that much of coaxing. He had an idea in his head and he was ready to get back on the streets with it.
Ek Tho Chance is the reason why we are all here in this city. Everyone wants that impossible, incredible, life-changing break and Mumbai never says no. Some make it. Some fail it. But most people who come here get a shot at it if they are persistent enough. This is a city of chances. You must take yours. Or regret it forever. The boy studying in the lamplight outside your window at night could be the next IAS topper. The girl who you passed by in the suburban train without a second glance could turn to be the next supermodel. Nothing’s impossible in Mumbai, nothing. If you seek it desperately enough and you are ready to give your all for it.
This is what Saeed’s new film is about. Hunting down that chance. Getting it. Losing it. Grabbing it again. If you love this city as much as I do, Ek Tho Chance will touch you, move you, inspire you, take you where we all want to be.